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Despite Omicron, 33 Jewish school teachers from across Latin America entered Israel in December to complete their advanced education training course in Jerusalem.

A group of dedicated and intrepid teachers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Panama managed to obtain permission to enter Israel in December in order to complete their 18-month advanced teacher training course and receive certificates from Israel’s Ministry of Education. Some had to travel to the United States to receive a third COVID vaccine that was not available to them in their own country. Course organizer Rabbi Shmuel Kornblit spent hours liaising with the Ministry of Health to help them obtain their travel permits so that they could enter Israel and study with leading educators.

The Rimonim academic teacher training course is run by the Ministry for the Diaspora, the Ministry of Education and Herzog College, through the UnitEd project for training Jewish Studies teachers from the Diaspora. 33 of the 40 students who planned to complete the course with an intensive one-month program in Israel were able to enter the country and graduate with Diaspora Teacher Certificates from the Ministry of Education. A further 20 students are studying in the third cohort and hope to come to Israel in July 2022, and Herzog Global is also running a Rimonim course in English for educators in North America and South Africa.

33 Spanish-speaking educators from diverse backgrounds spent 3 weeks visiting historic sites and completing course projects relating to Biblical history and Zionism. Over the past 18 months they have each invested 900 hours of work alongside their full-time teaching commitments in Jewish schools. They took courses in Hebrew, Bible, Oral Law, Jewish Thought, Zionism and digital pedagogy. Studying online, they learned many useful pedagogy skills that helped them to teach their own students during COVID lockdowns.

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Miriam Guindi teaches at the Magen David School in Mexico. She said: “I appreciate the teaching strategies that I have learned and the course content, which I use not only in the classroom but also to enrich my professionalism and to train others in these subjects. Some of the courses have helped me to broaden what I teach and enhanced my own Jewish identity.”

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Rabbi Shmuel Kornblit, Director of Herzog Global’s Spanish programs, says: “These teachers have invested enormous efforts in the course, and in getting to Israel, which was the highlight of the program. They met leading educational experts and politicians, visited fascinating locations and museums, and graduated with pride.”

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Presenting their certificates, Rabbi Prof. Yehuda Brandes, President of Herzog College, said: “After a long period of remote learning, we were excited to welcome you to learn together with us, and with the educators from Herzog led by the inimitable Rav Shmuel Kornblit. You have overcome the unprecedented challenges of COVID and made amazing efforts to complete the course. We hope that you will share your dedication, your new experiences and your hard-won knowledge with generations of students in your schools.”

Dr. Nachman Shai, Minister of the Diaspora, said: “We recognize the importance of training teachers in the Diaspora and investing resources in their success, because they are the guardians of the Hebrew language, of our Jewish values, of the Jewish identity of the next generation, and of their connection with the Jewish state.”

1) Rabbi Yehuda Aaronson and Rabbi Ariel Erani with graduates David and Mati Bassull from Panama. 
2) Group photo of 33 graduates.
3) Miriam Guindi at the Kotel Tunnel excavations (photo by Daniel Milsi)
4) Rabbi Shmuel Kornblit, director of Herzog Global’s Spanish Programs
(Photos 1, 2 and 4 by Maxim Dinstein.)


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